A team of UC faculty from 7 campuses, led by John T. Yun, associate professor of education in the Gevirtz School at UC Santa Barbara, has been awarded a grant totaling $2.2 million dollars over 4.5 years in the 2009 University of California Multi-Campus Research Programs and Initiatives (MRPI) competition. The award will fund the establishment of the University of California Educational Evaluation Center (UCEC), directed by Dr. Yun, who along with Dr. Patricia Marin and Jane Ready, will form the administrative core of the Center at UC Santa Barbara. The UCEC will be dedicated to harnessing the content and methodological expertise of the UC system for the purpose of improving educational practices in California schools, the UC system, and across the nation.
The UCEC will provide important infrastructure that will allow the UC System to participate more effectively in the evaluation of state, national, and UC initiatives, seek funding for novel evaluations, and pursue evaluation contracts as they become available. The participation of seven campuses (Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, San Diego and Santa Barbara) provides a presence in all regions of the state and brings together an extremely strong team of researchers across different academic disciplines including economics, psychology, education, psychometrics, and evaluation methodology. This team of researchers is lead by a core group of site directors including Dr. Bruce Fuller (Berkeley), Dr. Michal Kurlaender (Davis), Dr. Greg Duncan (Irvine), Dr. Marvin Alkin (Los Angeles), Dr. William Shadish (Merced), and Dr. Julian Betts (San Diego), as well as Drs. John Mohr and Paolo Gardinali of the UCSB Social Science Survey Center. These researchers are in a position to drive this unit toward substantial contributions to the knowledge base of effective approaches at all levels of education, spur innovation in the practice of rigorous evaluations, and serve as an important training program for students interested in both the methodological design and substantive outcomes of these evaluations.
“This multi-pronged effort promises to improve the actual practice of evaluation research through the development of innovative approaches; establish the University as the go-to place for scholarly, unbiased information about important educational efforts; and provide state and national policy makers at every level with valid information about educational programs,” says Gevirtz School Dean Jane Close Conoley. “The Center responds to an unprecedented opportunity for UC to become a singular voice of unbiased information related to the billions of dollars and hundreds of programmatic efforts that fuel our complex national educational system. There is a laser focus on educational outcomes at this point in our history, but a significant inability to generate information that meets high standards of scientific rigor.”
“We at the UCEC are focused on taking this opportunity to help educators and policymakers alike meet the educational challenges that face California and the nation with the intellectual creativity and rigor that has always characterized the University of California system,” concludes Dr. Yun.
[John Yun is available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]
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